Day 85 – August 30 – Assiniboia, SK (Grasslands West) to Shaunavon, SK

We were up early this morning so were on the road by 9:30. We took the same road as yesterday from Assiniboia to Wood Mountain, but from there we veered west on Highway 18 to access the east entrance to the West Block of Grasslands National Park.

We passed this clay hill on the way to Wood Mountain yesterday but were past it before we thought to take a photo. We were looking out for it today, so were able to make the stop.

There is a very large scrap car lot in Wood Mountain with some cars that appear worthy of restoration. The one I liked though was this old Pinto. My first car was a sapphire blue 1970 Pinto. The very first one in town. I ordered it in November of 1969 when the model was brand new. I loved that car. We went everywhere in it. I was tempted to go find the fellow and see how much he wanted for it and take it home to fix up.

The West Block of Grasslands also has a scenic drive. There were not as many walks out to overlooks and more information boards about the grasses, or bison, or rattlesnakes, etc. This part of the park was more what I was expecting – lots of wide open spaces and grass and scrub. The Badlands in East Block were definitely more photo-worthy. Most of today’s expanses looked very similar. Still it was a lovely day and a nice drive – and there is always something new to learn.

Dog Town is one of several very large prairie dog colonies in the park. You have to slow to 30 kph as they are constantly crossing the road.

There we quite a few very long hikes available as well. Although with all the rattlesnake warnings I am not sure I would want to wander around out here. Not to mention lack of water, high heat and sudden fierce wind changes. This view was at the trailhead for the 9.6 km (one way – non-loop) Timbergulch Trail.

The gal we chatted with yesterday at Wood Mountain Post said that last year was quite a bad drought year and that this year is a bit better, but not much. Parts of it certainly look very dry!

The Frenchman River winds through the West Block. The campground on this side of the park is named the Frenchman River.

This was our view from Melva picnic site where we stopped for lunch. Way, way off in the distance there is a lone big bison. You could only see him with the telescope viewer or binoculars. He was the only one we saw. We have seen several herds of pronghorn and a couple of deer and lots of prairie dogs, of course.

There were a couple of Parks Canada red chairs, but they were way off on a hillside and John said he did not want to walk all the way over there in the heat. So no photo op for those ones.

Our lunch stop was very reminiscent yesterday and today, of our times in Death Valley when the wind is so warm it dries the bread for your sandwich by the time you have put the PB & J on it.

We finished the scenic drive and continued on the gravel road out the south end of the West Block and then connected again to Highway 18 going west. When we reahed Climax, Saskatchewan we headed north on Highway 37 right into Shaunavon where we spend the night.

An early arrival time of 4 PM allowed me to see how bad the internet might be as the hotel said it wasn’t very good, but it managed to load my photos and allow me to write my blog just fine so all my work was done before dinner.

Tomorrow we visit Fort Walsh and Cypress Hills National Park on our way to Medicine Hat where we will spend two nights.

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